Selling guitars by Amateur/ new luthier

Jon Gillard
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Selling guitars by Amateur/ new luthier

Post by Jon Gillard » Mon Apr 10, 2017 2:38 pm

I'm curious to know where/how new and amateur luthiers go about selling their work, does anyone spend much on advertising, or rely on word of mouth; just try and sell to friends, or look further afield?
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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Selling guitars by Amateur/ new luthier

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Mon Apr 10, 2017 5:22 pm

One route is to go along to guitar societies, workshops, summer-schools etc. and encourage good players to demonstrate them. I commissioned my first Woodfield - a 13-string alt-guitar - on the basis of having heard him play one of his own early instruments at a summer-school way, way back (I think it was Cannington). He now sells to the likes of Dylla, Tennant, Tampalini et al.

If you can swing it with the organisers, concerts are another way to go - I quite recently saw (and played) some beautiful instruments by the young luthier Sam McClaren displayed during a Craig Ogden recital. Brilliant way to showcase them - they sounded so much better than the Smallman to my ears.

Another luthier I know turns up with his latest instruments at every possible opportunity - his guitars have been in the hands of David Russell, Nigel North, John Mills, Giulio Tampalini (they're just some that spring immediately to mind) and I believe that he gets snapshots to go along with the favourable comments he receives.

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Beowulf
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Re: Selling guitars by Amateur/ new luthier

Post by Beowulf » Mon Apr 10, 2017 8:14 pm

I am not a luthier, however it has been helpful in choosing an instrument to find a recording (with a competent guitarist!) on youtube and at least get some impression of the sound character.
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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Selling guitars by Amateur/ new luthier

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Mon Apr 10, 2017 9:12 pm

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:One route is to go along to guitar societies, workshops, summer-schools etc. and encourage good players to demonstrate them.
That is how I have made the acquaintance of luthiers and made purchasing decisions for most of the guitars I have owned.
Simon Ambridge Series 40 (2005)
Trevor Semple Series 88 (1992)
Louis Panormo (1838)
Alexander Batov Baroque Guitar (2013)

Jon Gillard
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Re: Selling guitars by Amateur/ new luthier

Post by Jon Gillard » Tue Apr 11, 2017 6:12 am

Thanks for these, all good ideas, I'm planning to attend a guitar event next month and will put a video on my to do list.
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simonm
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Re: Selling guitars by Amateur/ new luthier

Post by simonm » Tue Apr 11, 2017 8:01 am

Stephen Kenyon wrote:...

That is how I have made the acquaintance of luthiers and made purchasing decisions for most of the guitars I have owned.
If you bought your Panormo direct from Louis, you really are stunningly fit for your age. You could make a fortune if you shared your secret. :-)

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Re: Selling guitars by Amateur/ new luthier

Post by rico's » Tue Apr 11, 2017 9:30 am

Hello Jon,
This is an interesting question you are asking. I don't know how it works in England nor in other parts of the world, but I can tell you that here in Italy a war among poor people has started, where professional luthiers feel threatened by amateurs. They feel they are endangered and try to ban their presence from some luthiers exhibitions. It would not easy to ask such a simple question here in Italy. Professionals feel they suffer unfair competition where amateurs (they call them) illegal sell their products at low prices because they do not have fiscal burdens. The problem might be particularly evident here in Italy whee tax system is pretty heavy and artisans are continually struggling to manage to survive. Do feel any of this?

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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Selling guitars by Amateur/ new luthier

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Tue Apr 11, 2017 9:36 am

simonm wrote:
Stephen Kenyon wrote:...

That is how I have made the acquaintance of luthiers and made purchasing decisions for most of the guitars I have owned.
If you bought your Panormo direct from Louis, you really are stunningly fit for your age. You could make a fortune if you shared your secret. :-)
Hence the "most" :mrgreen:
Simon Ambridge Series 40 (2005)
Trevor Semple Series 88 (1992)
Louis Panormo (1838)
Alexander Batov Baroque Guitar (2013)

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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Selling guitars by Amateur/ new luthier

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Tue Apr 11, 2017 9:39 am

rico's wrote:Hello Jon,
This is an interesting question you are asking. I don't know how it works in England nor in other parts of the world, but I can tell you that here in Italy a war among poor people has started, where professional luthiers feel threatened by amateurs.
I don't make guitars but do maintain contact with several, and am not aware of such a problem in the UK. Many established makers started out as more or less amateur builders, rather than graduating from a formal institution, which may be part of it. But would suspect that here, and I'd have thought elsewhere, that truly amateur builders would not be competing sufficiently on overall quality to be that much of a threat.
Simon Ambridge Series 40 (2005)
Trevor Semple Series 88 (1992)
Louis Panormo (1838)
Alexander Batov Baroque Guitar (2013)

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Adrian Allan
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Re: Selling guitars by Amateur/ new luthier

Post by Adrian Allan » Tue Apr 11, 2017 10:27 am

I too have bought a guitar from a guitar festival, many years ago, from a new maker

I also think that the internet is really the way forward for a seller in this day and age. I still buy and sometimes sell guitars, and in making my decision I will be looking on this website, and also the auction site and Reverb (can I mention a site by name?)

My decision to purchase will be based on as much information as possible - a breakdown including such detail as fret height shows to me a maker who has fine attention to detail. Also:
A testimonial or endorsement from a player would help.
A demonstration of the guitar being played on Youtube
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James Lister
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Re: Selling guitars by Amateur/ new luthier

Post by James Lister » Tue Apr 11, 2017 10:50 am

Adrian Allan wrote: I also think that the internet is really the way forward for a seller in this day and age. I still buy and sometimes sell guitars, and in making my decision I will be looking on this website, and also the auction site and Reverb (can I mention a site by name?)
A website and social media presence are certainly important early on in a luthier's career. I had a website up and running while I was still a student at Newark College, and I was amazed at the number of orders I received based only on the information on the website (plus the exchange of a few emails in most cases). Of course just having a website isn't enough - if it doesn't appear on the first few pages of a relevant Google search, then not many people are going to see it.

Attending festivals is also important, and my experience has been that sticking to one or two and attending every year is more productive than going to different ones each year (if you go to all of them every year, you won't have time to make many guitars, and will spend a lot of money.) Don't expect to sell lots of guitars at festivals though - it's more about getting your name out there.

Placing guitars with established dealers is also good for getting your name noticed, but most good dealers have far more luthiers approaching them than they can accommodate, and many (but not all) want you to be fairly well established before they will take your guitars.

Although I still exhibit at festivals, these days word of mouth is far more significant, but festivals are also the main contact we have with other luthiers, and I think it's very important to meet and talk to other guitar makers, see what the competition is doing, and work out what influences players when they're making a purchase. Most luthiers spend most of their time working alone in the workshop (I'm lucky in that I also teach), so it's good to get out and have some direct contact with players, dealers and other makers.

James
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

Jon Gillard
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Re: Selling guitars by Amateur/ new luthier

Post by Jon Gillard » Tue Apr 11, 2017 1:41 pm

rico's wrote:Hello Jon,
This is an interesting question you are asking. I don't know how it works in England nor in other parts of the world, but I can tell you that here in Italy a war among poor people has started, where professional luthiers feel threatened by amateurs. They feel they are endangered and try to ban their presence from some luthiers exhibitions. It would not easy to ask such a simple question here in Italy. Professionals feel they suffer unfair competition where amateurs (they call them) illegal sell their products at low prices because they do not have fiscal burdens. The problem might be particularly evident here in Italy whee tax system is pretty heavy and artisans are continually struggling to manage to survive. Do feel any of this?
I'm not aware of this in the UK and imagine a well established luthier's clients will not be distracted by much less expensive offerings from those new to the craft.
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Jon Gillard
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Re: Selling guitars by Amateur/ new luthier

Post by Jon Gillard » Tue Apr 11, 2017 1:45 pm

Thanks James, any festivals you would recommend specifically? Must get a video sorted out soon.
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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Selling guitars by Amateur/ new luthier

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Tue Apr 11, 2017 1:59 pm

Jon Gillard wrote:Thanks James, any festivals you would recommend specifically? Must get a video sorted out soon.
West Dean usually has a day with exhibitions. Also visit guitar societies, the Dorset Guitar Society isn't too far for a day trip. Lots of keen players.
Simon Ambridge Series 40 (2005)
Trevor Semple Series 88 (1992)
Louis Panormo (1838)
Alexander Batov Baroque Guitar (2013)

vesa
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Re: Selling guitars by Amateur/ new luthier

Post by vesa » Wed Apr 12, 2017 6:58 am

3 things you have to know:
What is the level of your guitars?
What is your marked (professionals or amateurs?) ?
What's the price?

If you are not able to evaluate it yourself:

1. Begin with small steps: Contact the guitar teacher(he/she has to be a pro not a part timer) in your local music school, make an appointment and ask her/him to play and evaluate your guitar.
You should not be shy, normally all pro teachers (guitarists) are interested in new instruments,
those are after all what we hold in our hands several hours every day!

2. He/she should be able(if pro) to tell you whether your guitars suite to older students at the music school or if their potential is enough for the professional use. At this point trust his judgement, because I don't think you have another choice, yet.

3. I you are making student level guitars and the price is right you might have your first commission quite soon by some of the elder students at the music school.
Bare in mind that the teachers interest is that his students should have good instruments and normally we help our students to buy new ones.
I've been cg teacher 36 years and if there is a guitar for sale for 800€ which I know should cost 1200€ I will advice my student to by it.

4. If professional level your changes to get a deal this way are quite small because the teacher has his Romanillos, Tacchi, Aram, Ramirez what so ever and is not going to change to new one in many years.
So you should contact teacher or students at the closest academy of music and make an appointment with them.

So right instrument for right people for the right price.
Vesa Kuokkanen

Antonio Marin nr. 813 1995 (Bouchet)
Vesa Kuokkanen 2016

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